YouthBeat in TIME!

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 @ 10:33 AM

This week’s print edition of Time magazine (August 27) was dedicated to the way wireless is changing our world, and a few YouthBeat stats were cited regarding the age of real/ideal ownership of cell phones. Bonnie Rochman wrote, “A YouthBeat survey from the first six months of 2012 found that 13% of children ages 6 to 10 already own one. But 12 is the most common age for first-phonedom; that's when 18% of kids get theirs.” Read more here.

YouthBeat in TIME!While the number of 6-10 year olds who own cell phones has stabilized in the past few years, and fewer might own then we might think (0% of 6 year olds and 4% of 7 year olds, meaning that most of that 6-10 year old ownership is driven by older kids). But over the past few years, the cell phones kids own have become increasingly complex. As of June 2012, a full 35% of kids 6-10 years old with cell phones were able to access apps (but 46% of kids with phones say they use an app on a typical day). 46% have web access on their phones (although 55% of those kids have a rule in their house that they can’t use their cell phone to go online).

In addition to the factors that parents previously considered when getting their young child a cell phone, they now have to grapple with a host of other capabilities that are increasingly coming standard with a cell. Sure there are other options, but many kid cell phones are of the hand-me-down variety. Suddenly, the decision isn’t only dictated by whether a child can handle the responsibility of handling a breakable device, or of making calls to appropriate people, but instead they have to wrestle with the responsibility of giving kids unfettered access to the Internet, to apps (with varied content, at varied costs) and to email. Yet 47% of parents of kids say that they keep in touch with their children via cell phone when they’re not with them. 33% say they text! (In case you’re wondering, 64% of kids with phones have unlimited texting plans). So we expect that kids will continue to keep cell phones by their side, and parents will continue to struggle with the many, many factors that contribute to the decision to buy one for them. 

Tags: youth research, texting, digital drugs, Youth, culture, youth media

Parents and Teens Told "DON’T TXT & DRIVE”

Posted by Amy Henry on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 @ 10:32 AM

BMW recently launched a provocative campaign targeted to adults, which uses children as the reason to finally change their ways when it comes to texting while driving . While the brand was lauded by public health and transportation safety organizations for its efforts, receiving even more attention by these groups was its much smaller initiative, a “DON’T TXT & DRIVE” message/video being shown at more than 100 teen driving schools conducted across the U.S. this year.Teen Texting

As much as most experts agree that all drivers could use a friendly (albeit not so subtle) reminder of the risks of texting while driving, few would argue that teens pose the greatest risk to themselves and others while on the road.

According to the Department of Transportation, teenagers are already at a greater risk and are more likely to suffer severe injury when using a handheld device while driving. Their research shows that one in five drivers admits to texting while driving; however, when the question is posed to 16- to 19-year-olds, the percentage leaps to 70%.

Is it just that teens don’t know any better? Maybe…We know that the prefrontal cortex, known among scientists as the “area of sober second thought,” is under-developed in teens, causing the average teenager to assess and respond to risk differently than (not as well as) the average adult. But most research on teens and texting while driving has shown that teens are aware of the risks.  In a 2009 study out of the University of Kansas, investigators found that even though people believe that talking on a cellular phone while driving is dangerous, they will tend to initiate a cellular conversation if they believe that the call is important. When it comes to texting while driving, it seems that getting teens to stop isn’t about telling them something they don’t know. So what’s the solution?

Some studies have suggested that parents’ actions say more than their words when it comes to texting while driving. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that teens whose parents had three or more crashes on their records were 22 percent more likely to crash at least once, compared with teens whose parents had no crashes. Likewise, the research found that children whose parents had three or more violations on their records were 38 percent more likely to have a violation on their own records, compared with teens whose parents had none. Many teens assert that parents warn them about texting when taking the wheel, even while they dial and drive themselves.

Technological developments are under way that would literally shut a phone down if it's used in a moving vehicle. But these types of controls, if they follow trends from other technology sectors, are likely to be adopted by only a few. And determined drivers might find ways around these blocks that circumvent parents’ good intentions.

Peer pressure might be the most powerful influence on changing their behavior for the better. S.A.D.D. proved more effective than M.A.D.D. in changing teens’ attitudes towards drinking and driving. But even more important, teens who refuse to drink and drive often site social desirability as one of the key reasons why they resist. Ironically, the “everyone does it” statistics that make teen texting seem like a universal bad habit might do less to deter behavior change than we think. In fact, a new conversation – one started by teens themselves – is likely the only kind of communication that will truly turn the tide in this next public health crisis.

Tags: texting, parents, Teens